Landlords across Bath and North East Somerset are being reminded that from 1st October all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), with five or more occupants in two or more households, must be licenced.
The new licensing requirement has been introduced nationwide. Landlords or agents responsible for HMOs that fall under the new definition will be committing a criminal offence if they fail to apply for a licence or a temporary exemption by the deadline.
Councillor Bob Goodman, Cabinet member for Development & Neighbourhoods said: “Private rental properties account of almost a third of all housing in the district. All tenants should be able to live in safe and well managed properties and HMO licensing helps ensure standards are met and maintained.”
Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet has also agreed this week a proposal to extend the scope of licensing to cover HMOs which house three or four people in two or more separate households in Bath City. Further details on the additional licensing scheme will be released in the coming months.
Between the two schemes an estimated 3,000 HMOs will be covered by licensing; 1,000 through mandatory licensing and 2,000 through additional licensing.
Failing to have an HMO licence is a criminal offence and is liable on summary conviction to an unlimited fine or a civil penalty of up to £30,000 per offence.
The other consequences of operating an unlicensed HMO are a restriction on using section 21 of the Housing Act to serve a notice seeking possession and a rent repayment order to recover up to 12 months’ rent. Where there is no realistic prospect of licensing the property the Council may also make an Interim Management Order to take over management of the property.
To apply for a licence and find out more visit the Council’s Housing Services website at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/hmoapp